Overcoming
Obstacles And
Doubt

Many people face obstacles when planning for - and while attending - college. But, there are ways to overcome or cope with these problems. Scroll over the problems that apply for you and see if these possible strategies might help - or prompt you to come up with your own solutions.

I can't afford college. Different colleges charge different tuitions and fees. Some can be reasonable - especially if you explore grants and scholarships. There's no doubt that, as a student, you'll make financial sacrifices - but you're making an investment in yourself and in your family.

I dropped out of high school. Many community colleges - and nearly all tribal colleges - will help you get your high school equivalency diploma (GED) and guide you to courses you can take to get ready for college work.

I'll lose my American Indian identity. There was a time when education was something imposed on Native people - and American Indian culture was sacrificed along the way. The sad legacy of forced boarding schools still haunts people today. But today, education is something that you can define for yourself. Your college courses could include classes to learn your Nation's language and rich history. Your college education can become a way of developing important career skills and celebrating Indian culture.

I have to work. Many students work full time or part time during college. Consider schools that offer night or weekend classes and allows you to attend part time.

Your employer could be a surprising source of support. For example, your company may be willing to pay for part of your tuition. Perhaps your schedule can be changed to fit class schedules. Your boss also may be willing to let you use the company's Internet connection to help you do the necessary research to finish your assignments - or even take online classes.

The closest school is 50 miles away. A long drive to school is a heavy burden - but good company makes it better. Ask around your community to see if someone else is already attending - or wants to attend - your school. Try to work out a ride-sharing plan.

If you do have a computer (a laptop, preferably) try to find where broadband might be available. Some tribal and other community centers pay for broadband. Your employer may allow you to use the company's Internet connection to complete assignments. (Always ask first your employer for permission first - never assume.)

There are plans to make broadband more accessible in rural and remote areas, so keep asking questions about availability. This year's "no" may be next year's "yes."


Overcoming Obstacles and Doubt

I have a family to take care of. If you have children and a partner, it's perfectly all right to ask for more help while you're a college student. After all, what you're trying to achieve isn't just for yourself, but for your family and your community.

If you are a single parent attending college, it will be difficult at times. Still, one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family is to further your education. It's a way to rise above poverty.

Try to line up a network of people who can help you through the "crunch times" all students face. While you're busy studying for an exam, maybe a friend can pick up your groceries along with her own. Perhaps relatives could take your kids along with theirs to a sporting event. You will have to learn how to ask for help.

Find out if your college offers child care or financial help to pay for child care.

Look into support groups and blogs on the Internet. These can be a good way to share ideas. Still, remember, some people use the Internet to scam or even harm people. Never disclose too much personal information, such as your real name, address, physical description, etc.

I had bad grades in high school. Your bad grades were in your past. Now it's about your goals and motivation. Start by filling in the gaps and learning good studying habits. Try these tips:

  • Consider tutoring services or remedial courses so you'll be prepared to tackle your college courses.
  • Set aside a routine time for study (whatever time works best for you) and a regular place to study.
  • Keep a separate notebook for each class.
  • Keep good notes, written and recorded (if the instructor allows tape recordings).
  • Create a system to remind yourself of assignment due dates, exams, etc. This could be a simple paper chart with color coding (signifying importance) or it could be a tracking system on the computer.

My family and friends don't think I should go to college and it's hard to deal with their disapproval. Your friends and family may have very conflicted ideas about education. This could be because of the history of boarding schools or it could be because some attended "mainstream" universities and felt so isolated that they left. Maybe they just don't want you to change too much and leave behind your culture.

You can acknowledge their concerns, but only you can know what is right for you. If you take the time to decide what school and course of study is a good fit, you can walk that dual path of honoring culture while embracing education.

When you can, give back to your community. This will demonstrate that your education is a benefit to all.

It just seems so hard and complicated. Getting a college education won't always be an easy task - but it's worth it and there are many people and programs to help you along the way. Many people struggle in life - and many have found ways to overcome their challenges and ways to benefit others. Consider Radmilla Cody.

I'm too old. The world has something new to teach us every day. There is no day where you're too old to learn - and no day when you don't have new knowledge to share.


Radmilla Cody

A voice and a spirit on a mission

In 2010, National Public Radio named Radmilla Cody as one of its "50 Great Voices."
But life hasn't been easy for the traditional - yet unique - Navajo recording artist.
Her mother is Navajo and her father is African-American, and Radmilla was raised
by her grandmother on the Navajo reservation outside Flagstaff. Radmilla's first
audience was the sheep in the corral behind her grandmother's house.

In time, she became involved with an abusive boyfriend and spent 18 months in prison
for not reporting his drug dealings. Yet, she prevailed. In her song, "Blessing
in Disguise," she sings, "I may be scarred, but I refuse to fall; I have the power
to look beyond it all; I've grown, I'm here, I'm persevering into a stronger mind."

And part of her persevering is in giving back. Radmilla has become an anti-domestic
abuse advocate and she communicates positive messages about her biracial identity.

To learn more about Radmilla Cody visit
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126638085 and
http://www.radmillacody.net